by Hand Week 18
week, we did a really quick definition, or possibly more
accurately, a characterization of consciousness and ended up with the
notion that higher consciousness requires a genuine kind of freedom such
as we refer to when speaking of “free will.” I just want to tie up one
loose end before we go on.
added “consciousness” to Aleister Crowley’s definition of magic, making
it “Magic is the art of bringing about change in consciousness
in conformity with the will.” We do not know whether the word “will” means
this higher, freer will, or the basic instinctual drive that often passes
as will. The inability to distinguish between these “wills” is one of
the things that can make magic dangerous for those who are not developed
in wisdom. But I believe that what Dion Fortune had in mind was truly
So we have
the following elements that characterize consciousness from last week:
1) We are aware and we are aware of ourselves as aware, and we have the
awareness of subject and object. 2) There is something about higher consciousness
that enables us to share a view of reality with others. We are not aware
in a vacuum. We establish this connection with other beings who are presumably
conscious by means of language. 3) Higher consciousness enables us to
see things so that we can make choices freely, driven to a minimal degree
by instincts, emotions or other forces that might cause us to make choices
that we know not to be in our best interests or in accord with our real
intentions. Or, to put it simply, are we being conscious when we cannot
keep to a diet?
We Experience the Universe as Conscious?
Do we see
any of the above elements of consciousness present in the universe? I
mentioned last week that one of the difficulties in history has been the
failure of peoples to recognize each other as fully human because of an
inability to communicate. And while I didn’t mention it, it is also apparent
that when one or the other side in a conflict chose not to see the other
side as human, they were very good at justifying their failure of perception.
Have we done this to the universe as a whole, to the Earth, to any thing
in this world?
or not this is merely a failure of perception, it is clear that the prevailing
scientific view is that the universe is not conscious, as I have pointed
out several times.
Magic and Astrology
element of consciousness, that we are aware and that we are aware that
we are aware, is very difficult to establish in another person. In fact
this is the whole problem. As I have already mentioned, we do this through
communication, which in turn requires language, at least at a primitive
level. So, are there languages involved in magic and astrology?
I think that
there are very few who would doubt that there is at least something like
language in astrology. It may not be quite so clear in magic, but those
who have studied it at all realize it is clear that any old thing will
just not do in ceremonial or “high” magic. There are rules and proper
procedures that may exist in many forms, and they are not arbitrary. It
is generally known that in many ceremonial magic procedures there are
things that must be done just so, and things that must be said just so
or nothing works correctly. I have even said that such procedures are
like computer languages in that any error will create a “bug” in the proceedings.
What I have
just said about language and procedures in magic raises a problem. We
have clear instances of language in which there is no obvious evidence
of consciousness being involved. The computer is exhibit A. The very fact
that we have to be so precise in computer languages is because we are
dealing with a machine. It does not “get” approximate instructions. Does
this mean that when magic requires such precision, we are dealing with
a machine? We’ll come back to that later.
Then we have
mathematics, which is a kind of language. We approach nature with it,
but we believe that we have created it, and that its power in explaining
nature is no indication that it is a “language of nature.” Well, actually
this brings us back to the central problem of the nature of the universe,
alive or otherwise. The first great scientists of the scientific revolution,
Galileo, Kepler and Newton, as well as the ancients who inspired them,
believed that mathematics was a language of nature, and that our ability
to understand nature in terms of mathematics was because nature was speaking
to us using it.
we will continue with language and nature and begin to come to conclusions
that are very much in conflict with mainstream science.